LAKEWOOD - Perhaps the La Mirada High boys basketball team caught Artesia napping the first time the teams played. On Wednesday, the only time the Pioneers slept was on the plane ride home from North Carolina.
After playing at Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadiumn Tuesday night, Artesia flew home Wednesday and landed at the airport at 12:30 p.m., rested and then went out and beat the Matadores 72-55 to take over sole possession of first place in the Suburban League.
Sophomore forward Renardo Sidney led all scorers with 24 points while junior guard Malik Story scored 15 and senior guard A.J. Gasporra chipped in with 13.
Wednesday also ended a grueling stretch for the Pioneers (22-2, 9-1) that saw them play three straight days and four out of their last five.
They will now get today off before playing at Norwalk on Friday.
"The kids were just awesome tonight," Artesia coach Loren Grover said. "I couldn't have asked for anything more. They all stepped up and it wasn't easy. We were riding emotion in the first half but our legs got a little tired in the second.
"It took a little while before we got our energy back but we did and we managed to hang on the rest of the way and get the win."
La Mirada (18-6, 8-2) handed the Pioneers their only league loss on Jan. 17 when the Matadores won at home 67-65. And on Wednesday, they were hoping to go on the road and steal another game. But if Artesia was tired, it never showed in the first half.
The Pioneers took a 22-13 lead after one quarter and they went into halftime up 42-28.
La Mirada, however, tried to make a game of it in the third quarter when Taylor Siemens sparked an 8-0 run scoring six points.
But any thought of a comeback was squashed after Malik Story hit a 3-pointer to give Artesia a 48-39 lead heading into the fourth quarter.